Tata Open Maharashtra: Simon wary of ‘good player’ Anderson in final

Gilles Simon, playing in both the finals of the ATP 250 event, is yet to register a win against World No. 15 Kevin Anderson.

Gilles Simon...“I’m never as relaxed as I like to be on court.”   -  R. Ragu

Slice, drop shot, volley, counter puncher, an ace as quick as 226 kmph – Tata Open Maharashtra has bestowed top quality tennis over the last week. As the days progressed, the intensity doubled.

In fact, on Friday, at the Balewadi Stadium here, both the finalists bounced back after being a set down. That’s right. They stretched it to the third set. Gilles Simon took a while to assess Marin Cilic’s strategy, but when he smelled a chance, he gulped it down to emerge victorious.

Read: Simon stuns Cilic

Benoit Paire’s game – much like his personality – tends to get flashy and moody. The Frenchman is also known for smashing racquets and he didn’t disappoint his fans in India. He did throw his weapon in disgust during the second set. Kevin Anderson attacked him at the right time to run away with the game.

‘Good surprise’

However, Simon – who is yet to defeat Anderson – will be the highlight of the day. “This is the first time I am playing the final in doubles. It is a good surprise to be in the singles final too. Marin was playing super good in the first set, every return was perfect. He was hitting the target. Finally, we picked up rallies when it became 5-1 to 6-1. I am lucky to have broken him in the second set. He also missed the first backhand of the match, which made it tighter,” said Simon.

The 89th ranked player confessed he felt terrible once he lost the first set. But he revealed that the change of gear wasn’t a drastic one. “I am never as relaxed as I like to be on court. I look relaxed, but I am not. When I say I am tired, nobody understands me.”

The last time Simon played a final was in 2015 at the Moselle Open, where he lost to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. But he is yet to register a win against Kevin Anderson. “Kevin is not a great news for me to play in the final. It is difficult for he is a good player like Marin. He hits really well from the baseline. It is hard to control the game against him. Today, he had a nice strategy as he turned it around. He is one of the best players in the world,” added Simon.

Cilic and Anderson are both tall players. Simon’s frame is relatively on the shorter side, but that’s no worry for him. “It is not like I can grow up in 20 seconds. I have to find my own solutions on court. He is tall and he may drop bombs with every serve, but I would try to focus on the part of the game where I can be better.”

'Great fighter'

On the other hand, Anderson believes Simon is a solid player. “He is a great fighter and I think it is going to be a close match,” he had said at the post match conference.

In doubles, Simon and Pierre-Hugues Herbert will take on the mighty Robin Haase and Matwe Middelkoop.

Matches begin at 0500 IST on Saturday.